INDEPENDENCE — There probably isn’t one mass-produced plate or mug in Karen Mahoney’s kitchen.
Each earth-toned piece bears the marks of its creator — none quite matching, but individually beautiful, and somehow coordinated.
Mahoney started working with clay 14 years ago, and has made or traded most of those items she uses daily.
“I took a ceramics class for an art credit and I fell in love with it,” she said.
Now she shares that love of ceramics with students at Dallas Community School and through Moving Clay, her mobile ceramics business.
“It’s been a plan in the works since the spring, but it took a bit longer to roll out all the behind-the-scenes stuff,” Mahoney said.
There are several projects on movingclay.com for people to choose from.
The cost depends on the class size, which can be scheduled for up to 30 people, though Mahoney said she is open to teaching larger groups.
“I show up with a bag of clay and all of the materials we’ll need to make (a project),” she said. “We come out with all the materials, teach the students, they get to make the project, decorate it, paint it.”
Projects for all skill levels are available.
“We have projects that are ready for someone that’s never touched clay before,” Mahoney said. “We have those classes where it’s a lot more basic, and then we have much more complex projects.”
A small teapot project will be added in the near future, she said.
“Teapots are, traditionally, the hardest piece for people to make,” Mahoney said. “It’s a big balance between the spout, the handle, the lid and the body all working together visually but also functionally.”
The first project Mahoney made all those years ago was a wall tile, which she still has “somewhere in a box of old ugly pots.”
Her favorite project to teach and to create is mugs.
“I love how you just make that connection with the piece, by holding and really getting to know the shape,” Mahoney said. “The form, the fit of your hand in the handle, how it touches your lips. It’s a lot more intimate experience with mugs than with other pottery because of that, so I really enjoy it.”
After participants finish their projects, Mahoney takes the finished pieces back to the studio to dry and put into the kilns to turn it into ceramic before it is returned.
Everything is included in the price, she said.
The entire process generally takes about three weeks.
“That can vary a bit, depending on the thickness and the size of the projects and also the season that we’re in,” Mahoney said. “The more humid it is, the slower the projects dry, which is tricky out here.”
Mahoney grew up near Chicago and later moved to Massachusetts, where she got a position at a clay studio.
“I had access to all the clay, firing materials and knowledge I could need,” she said.
She worked under a well-known raku potter for six years.
“I learned a lot there,” Mahoney said. “Part of that business was also a bookstore, so in the entire time I was there learning, I never came up with a single question I couldn’t answer through one of the books or one of the people around me.”
She and her husband moved to Independence five years ago when he got a job in the area.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s super nice here. It’s really quiet and everyone’s really nice. When we were in Massachusetts, we were there for seven years, and we were just outside Boston, so we were absolutely done with the city life and wanted to find a nice quiet spot.”
For more information: movingclay.com.